Ripples affect island breakaway bid

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Waiheke’s bid for its own council has contributed to a decision to investigate reorganising local government in the Auckland Council area.
The Local Government Commission has decided that all of Auckland is affected by a bid from the Northern Action Group to create a separate unitary council in North Rodney.
The commission referred to Our Waiheke’s application for a unitary council as one of the factors that led it to find that there is community support in the Auckland Council area for changes to local government.
The next step involves the commission calling for applications for alternative local government arrangements in the Auckland area.
Our Waiheke spokesperson John Meeuwsen is concerned that the island’s application will be “subsumed” into the wider consideration of proposals for reorganisation of local governance in Auckland.
Waiheke is geographically isolated from the rest of Auckland and Our Waiheke will argue that its case for a unitary council should be considered separately from the wider reorganization.
The island houses only 0.6% of Auckland’s population, has its own district plan, and could break away from Auckland Council more easily than other areas, says Mr Meeuwsen.
He urges all island residents and ratepayers who want a separate council for Waiheke to write to the commission expressing their support for Our Waiheke’s plan or proposing an alternative form of local governance.
Our Waiheke proposed a unitary council, which fulfills the functions of a district and regional council.
The new council would have a single ward, an elected mayor, a deputy mayor and five to seven councillors.
Our Waiheke plans to hold public meetings on the latest developments on Wednesday 11 May in the evening, and on Saturday 14 May in the afternoon, but times and venues have not yet been confirmed.
If the commission decides that changes to local government in Auckland would be beneficial, it will develop a draft reorganisation proposal and consult with the community before making final decisions on its preferred options.
“This process could take quite a
long time and will certainly not be completed before the coming local government elections in October,” says Mr Meeuwsen.
The full application for a unitary council on Waiheke can be viewed at www.ourwaiheke.co.nz.
Letters supporting a Waiheke council can be made by 24 June to info@lgc.govt.nz or to P.O. Box 5362, Wellington. • Rose Davis

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